In an interesting turn of events, San Francisco’s Pirate Cat Radio (PCR) will be providing programming for a new full power FM community radio station down the coast in Pescadero that is launching tomorrow.
Fined by the FCC for broadcasting over FM without a license, Pirate Cat Radio has been operating as a web-only station since last fall. In March Pirate Cat Radio founder Monkey announced on the Pirate Cat website that he was named General Manager of Pescadero community radio station KPDO and that he planned to “utilize most of Pirate Cat Radio’s 53 radio shows as content for KPDO, until a formal studio is built in Pescadero.” Over the past few months, Pirate Cat Radio DJs have been announcing the call letters KPDO over their netcast in advance of this week’s launch of the KPDO webcast. The terrestrial broadcast launch of KPDO at 89.3 FM in Pescadero will be May 1, 2010.
This week Pirate Cat Radio DJ Russel Forster outlined this transition in a blog post for the SF Underground Radio Examiner. He writes:
“PCR has made the unusual move of leaping at the chance to create a community radio station network that will be protected by the FCC rather than pursued by it.
Pirate Cat Radio will continue to have a studio in San Francisco that will broadcast over the internet, and KPDO will broadcast a mixture of its own and PCR content (in the form of volunteers’ weekly news/talk/comedy/music shows) from a separate studio in Pescadero.”
Monkey and his crew from Pirate Cat Radio are actually taking the helm of a station that’s been licensed since 2003. According to an article in the Half Moon Bay Review, KPDO was originally conceptualized by former Pescadero middle school teacher Celeste Worden back in 1994.
Celeste came up with the idea to use radio in her classroom as a way to inspire writing and this eventually led her to found “a nonprofit called Pescadero Public Radio Service” and under these auspices “applied for a broadcast license from the FCC.” Unfortunately by the time the license was granted, Celeste had moved away from Pescadero so could not shepherd the new station and had trouble finding someone who could. The piece states that,
“…she found a broadcast site and set up a transmitter. For the past seven years the station has limped along on autopilot, intermittently spurting classical music filler – fulfilling the base requirements to avoid cancellation.
In November, Roberts caught wind of Worden’s predicament with KPDO and pounced. Within three days, the radio lover produced a preliminary programming schedule and station plan. Worden was convinced.”
Currently Pirate Cat Radio is located in the urban setting of San Francisco’s Mission District, with programming aligned with the interests of their San Francisco-based DJs. In the beginning days of KPDO, many of these shows will air in Pescadero, but it’s not clear if this is the type of programming that the local community there is hungry for.
As the new General Manager of KPDO, it will be interesting to see how Monkey makes the transition into legitimate, licensed broadcasting with all of the related FCC rules and paperwork. I think everyone is also anxious to see how he conceptualizes KPDO as a separate entity from Pirate Cat Radio and how he is able to connect with the local, coastal community of Pescadero.
According to the first issue of the KPDO newsletter, the station is soliciting volunteer DJs interested in hosting music or public affairs shows. The station promises to provide an outlet for local music, local public affairs programming, and community debate as well as offering “radio education for youth and young adults.”
It’s great to see that this ghost station of KPDO is getting an opportunity to be a full-fledged community resource and I hope that Pescadero residents are eager to participate in its evolution as both listeners and programmers.
To celebrate the launch of KPDO, there will be a big all-day bash in Pescadero featuring music, food, and film on Saturday, May 8th starting at 10am.